I like to cook, most of the time, but I have always been afraid of yeast.
I had pretty much disavowed the use of yeast, at least by me.
Then Texas Monthly Magazine came out and within its pages was a recipe for kolaches. Unusual. TM is not a cooking book.
I love kolaches. I had never seen a kolache until I moved down to this end of the state, a community of variety and charm.
I fell in love with kolaches at meetings of the board of trustees at College of the Mainland. One of my newspaper beats, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Not only was there usually something interesting going on, frequently something controversial, but there also were, at every meeting, kolaches.
Helen Foster was the secretary to the president and I always assumed, though I never asked, that it was she who ordered the meeting-time kolaches.
I don’t know where she got them because I have not been able to locate any since — at least not south of Houston. And I am not going to drive to Houston just for kolaches, much as I enjoy them.
Then here came the recipe, and I decided I ought to at least try to make them.
At a church social I was talking about this brave decision when a fellow diner said I should call his wife, also named Cathy, to come help me.
I didn’t call her, even in the throes of kolache creation.
I went to the store, bought dried apricots, as suggested, along with special bread flour and the mysterious little packets of yeast.
The first direction, for making the filling, called for the apricots to be soaked in boiling water for six hours. Six hours.
I mixed the yeast bowl of stuff. I mixed and heated the milk pan of stuff. I mixed the egg stuff. I mixed the crunchy stuff. I added up all the mixing time and all the resting and rising and figured out by the time I got all those things done, the apricots would be soft enough.
And sure enough, adding cups of flour and letting things rest, it all came together and I patted out and buttered and made indentions and scooped filling and sprinkled crunchies and there were kolaches, baked in two big sheet pans.
Not like the ones you buy. But not too bad.
However, once is enough.